§ Mr. Jon Owen Jones
To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) whether there will be a common UK position on the definition of unreasonable periods of delay for treatment within the NHS, as phrased in the European Court of Justice ruling on treatment of patients abroad; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) what definition he uses for an unreasonable period of delay for treatment within the NHS, as referred to in the European Court of Justice ruling on treatment of patients abroad; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Hutton
'Undue delay' is a term used in Netherlands' national law, which was considered by the European Court of Justice in case C157/99 Geraets-Smits/Peerbooms. The Court did not define what it meant by 'undue delay', by implication leaving that a matter for determination by the member state in question.
If an application for treatment elsewhere in the European Economic Area or Switzerland is made on grounds of delay by patients resident in England, Scotland or Wales under the referral scheme in Regulation (EEC) 1408/71, the Department takes account of the national targets for waiting times as published in England, Scotland and Wales and of the individual patient's clinical need. Applications in Northern Ireland are authorised by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety and take account of similar considerations.
A further European Court of Justice judgment was published on 13 May 2003 in case C385/99 Muller-Faure/Van Riet. The Department is considering its position in the light of that judgment, in consultation with the Devolved Administrations.